Moroccan-Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz has died aged 59 after a career in some of France’s best-known fashion houses.
Most recently, Elbaz had launched his own fashion label, known as ‘AZ Factory’.
Who was Alber Elbaz?
Born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1961, Elbaz had a successful career in the fashion industry, famously holding the post of creative director at Lanvin in Paris from 2001 until 2015, when he was sacked.
Previous to that he had served stints at other large fashion houses including Yves Saint Laurent and Geoffrey Beene.
Elbaz was noted for modernising Lanvin, which was a small fashion house focusing mostly on menswear when he arrived.
The designer transformed the company, pivoting to a focus on women’s fashion, with his cocktail dresses with heavy zips receiving particular attention.
Following his departure from Lanvin, Elbaz went on to work with various luxury brands, launching his own perfume in 2016 and developing his own fashion line, AZ factory, in 2019.
The brand only launched very recently, in early 2021.
What is Elbaz most famous for?
Elbaz has designed clothes for a number of high-profile figures, namely women, including designing all the costumes worn by Natalie Portman in the 2016 film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’.
Meryl Streep was wearing one of Elbaz’s gowns in 2012 when she accepted the Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady.
In 2015, Streep said of his dresses:
"Alber's dresses for Lanvin are the only ones that when I wear them, I feel like myself, or even a better version of her”.
Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian and Sarah Jessica Parker have all worn Elbaz designs.
In a 2014 interview, Elbaz said his vision was women-first, and that he was “very concerned about comfort” while designing dresses.
Industrial zips were one of his signature designs, with Elbaz favouring the ease of a “zip-in and zip-out” dress.
Elbaz was also known for transforming fashion’s relationship with Hollywood during his time at Lanvin, saying:
“The red carpet has gone from elitist to popular”.
“Everyone has access to it, even if only on the internet or through magazines. Since fashion is an integral part of celebrities’ lives, it’s become a kind of permanent red carpet despite itself.”
He was decorated with a number of high accolades in the industry, including an award named after his old mentor, Geoffrey Beene.
In 2016, he became the recipient of one of France’s most prestigious awards: the French Legion of Honour.
His most recent venture, AZ Factory, is a size-inclusive fashion brand with pieces including dresses and trainers.
How did Elbaz die?
It has been reported that Elbaz died at the American Hospital in Paris of Covid-19.
Celebrities and high-profile fashion figures have paid tribute to the designer online, with Stella McCartney calling him a man “like no other in the world”.
Model Erin O’Connor called him a “fine, kind creative gentleman”, while Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri praised Elbaz as the “first person who made me feel at home in the fashion industry”.